3 Ways It Seems You're Working Hard When You're Really Just Burning Yourself Out

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Entrepreneurs, perhaps more than any other group, are always in danger of burnout. It’s a constant battle to keep the proper boundaries between business, family and leisure time. Many entrepreneurs end up losing the battle. It’s easy to see why.

They don’t punch out their time card at five o’clock. They don’t look forward to the weekend when they can forget about work.

And while they may be physically at work 50-60 hours per week, their mind never really shuts off--business consumes their thoughts most of the day.

It’s hard to keep this level of intensity up for long. Your energy is drained, and eventually something has to give.

A few weeks ago I wrote about 13 revenue sinkholes where your business may be leaking money.  But life isn’t all about money. It’s also about putting energy into personal relationships, experiences and living the life you love--an impossibility if you don’t have any energy left, or worse yet, you’re completely burnt out.

So here are 3 ways you could be leaking energy, how you can plug these energy leaks, and how to save yourself from burnout.

Related: 3 Important Signs of Entrepreneurial Burnout and How to Overcome It

Energy Leak #1: Years Without a Vacation.

Taking a relaxing vacation is like pressing your energy “reset” button. The longer you go without a vacation, the more the pressures and responsibilities of your business build up, and the more they take a toll on your energy.

I like to vacation at least once a year with my family. In fact, in the last five years I’ve been to Paris, London, Dublin, Rome, Monaco, Amsterdam and Venice. There was a time when I would have thought that irresponsible. Now, I know it’s imperative. By taking time off for a vacation, not only will you feel rejuvenated, but your business will learn to become more productive without you.

As counterintuitive as it sounds, when you’re away, your employees have to learn how to run the ship on their own. By the time you come back, they’ll be more efficient and self-reliant, freeing your time up to concentrate on the tasks that energize you the most.

Related: Why You Should Make Vacation Time a Priority This Year

Energy Leak #2: Jack of all trades.

Most entrepreneurs have a tendency to want to control every aspect of their business. This sometimes means taking on responsibilities that don’t match your strengths and take focus away from areas where you excel. This energy drain steals your passion for the business.

The first step in plugging this energy leak is to simply stop doing the tasks that drain your energy. Maybe it’s billing, taxes, networking, meetings, paperwork, advertising, but whatever task it is that saps your energy, find someone else to do it.

If you’ve always believed it is too expensive to hire someone else, try rearranging your finances, loans and bills to free up cash.

Related: Why Business Owners Have a Hard Time Delegating

Energy Leak #3: A distant retirement.

Retirement planning can be confusing for entrepreneurs. You don’t have an employer to set you up with a 30-year retirement plan like a 401(k) or IRA. Even if you invested in a 30-year retirement plan on your own, which I don’t recommend, 30 years is a long time to keep working as hard as entrepreneurs do. Burnout is almost a given.

Another retirement plan popular with entrepreneurs is to sell the business one day and live off the proceeds. But again, if that’s 10, 20 or 30 years down the road, you may reach burnout long before then. Your uninspired business may not be worth enough to retire comfortably.

The way to avoid burnout and plug this leak is to change the way you think about retirement. Stop thinking about retiring from your business in 30 years, and start thinking about retiring in your business in two or three years. Start with hiring the right people to do the tasks you hate and giving your employees more responsibility. Providing leadership and incentives for your team to run the day-to-day business without you.

Plugging these three leaks will protect your energy and free up your time so you can live the life you love now.

Note: This article was co-authoered by Derick Van Ness.

Related: We Need Smarter Business-Owner Retirement Plans, Not More (Opinion)